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Anita Conley Weaves Together Ballet And Storytelling

Anita Conley

Anita Conley

On Saturday, October 26, The International Ballet Theater will present the inaugural performance of its 2013-14 season at Dallas’ historic Majestic Theatre in Dallas. The evening will be comprised of a two-fold performance of classical and contemporary ballet works, including variations from Paquita and Don Quixote, as well as the return of The Weaving, from the minds of director Gloria Moulopoulos and IBT founder Anita Conley.

Conley received her B.A. in Health Education from Southern Methodist University and in 2009 opened Studio A Dance in Southlake, Texas. Conley and her husband are patrons of the New York City Ballet and have recently been welcomed on to the School of American Ballet Advisory Board.

I interviewed Conley as she prepared for the International Ballet Theater’s opening performance.

Danielle Georgiou: How did you first become interested in dance? You’ve had a diverse career, from training and performing on drill teams to being a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, to now running a ballet company.

Anita Conley: Watching ballet on PBS as a child was my inspiration to dance   The happy circumstance of learning to dance came about by opportunities in middle school, high school and college dance and drill teams. I received very little formal training due to the lack of family finances, and after procuring a job at the age of 16, I was told by every studio I called, I was too old to begin ballet. My career in dance was by providential intervention, I consider myself a teacher and choreographer foremost, and a dancer secondly.

I tried out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders after watching the ABC made-for-TV-movie. So in 1979, I audition. Over 2,500 girls auditioned for the squad that year, and 18 rookies were selected. I was quite fortunate to be among the chosen few. I was a member of the elite Show Group within the DCC’s and traveled on USO TOURS to entertain our soldiers in Korea and Greece.

DG: Now that you are such a huge supporter of the arts and now the founder of your own company, has your love for dance changed? If so, how?

AC: My love is just deeper for the transformative art of dance. To watch our beautiful children learn and perform ballet is pure joy.

DG: Can you tell me a little more about the mission of the International Ballet Theater (IBT)? And about your studio, Studio A? How are they all connected? And how are the connected to your philanthropic work?

AC: The mission to preserve the classical forms of ballet and create contemporary works for current and future generations is at the core of our performance at Majestic Theater on Saturday, October 26th at 8:00pm.

Studio A Dance equips our dancers with the technical skills of ballet for those who wish to pursue a professional career as a dancer. My husband Bill and I support Studio A and International Ballet Theater with our time and resources.

Original Broadway Performance from June, 2010, Lincoln Center (NYC)

Original Broadway Performance from June, 2010, Lincoln Center (NYC)

DG: You are the producer of The Weaving, how did you make the transition from dancer to actor to producer?

AC: I do not consider myself a dancer, actor or a producer. The transition is from a dreamer to a doer.

DG: The Weaving, which will be performed at the Majestic Theater on Saturday, October 26, recently had its Broadway debut at the Lincoln Center. What made you want to bring it back to Dallas?

AC: Well, The Weaving actually had its premiere at The Irving Arts Center in 2010 before the Broadway debut. The production at the Majestic is an abbreviated version of the original. The team and I have worked to rewrite and improve the original work since it showed in New York performance. It continues to be a work in progress.

DG: What can we expect from the show?

AC: Two very diverse acts. The first showcases our IBT Apprentice dancers along with renowned guest artists. “The Weaving” comprises the second act. The message of hope and redemption in the midst of the devastation of WWII and the death camps is an unusual story. Corrie ten Boom’s heroic deeds that saved over 800 Jews from death under the Nazi’s occupation of Holland, is a story worth telling.

International Ballet Theater’s first performance of the 2013-2014 season will take place on. Saturday, October 26 at 8:00pm at the Majestic Theatre.